An attack on a police station in Barranquilla on Saturday killed five Colombian police officers and left at least 38 other people injured.
The assailant is believed to have tossed an explosive from a motorcycle at the station early in the morning in the country’s largest city on the Caribbean coast, according to media reports.
Photo: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos visits one of the people wounded during the Saturday morning attack in Barranquilla. (Credit: Presidencia de la República / SIG)
Cristian Camilo Bellón Galindo was quickly arrested in connection with the crime and is being charged with five counts of homicide, 42 counts of attempted murder, aggravated terrorism, and the use of explosives.
The 31-year-old is being held in Barranquilla, where Colombian Attorney General Néstor Humberto Martínez arrived on Saturday to oversee the investigation, saying definitively that “we have absolute certainty” that Bellón had carried out the fatal act.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos condemned the “cowardly attack” and expressed solidarity with the victims and their families. The head of state also flew to the city and visited the wounded in a Barranquilla hospital on Saturday to show the nation’s support and thank them for serving Colombia.
The president tried to assuage local fear of subsequent attacks by ordering an additional 1,500 national police officers to the city to increase overall security.
Each year, Barranquilla hosts Colombia’s largest Carnaval celebration — one of the biggest tourist draws in the country — with this year’s annual week of parades, music, and festivities beginning in mid-February.
Santos, on Twitter, stated that the extra law enforcement personnel had already been scheduled to go to the city to support security efforts during Carnaval and that he was simply moving forward their arrival date.
Attorney General Martínez said in a statement that Bellón is suspected to have perpetrated “terrorist activity to generate anxiety in the city in this pre-carnival period.”
He urged anyone with more information about the attack or the suspect to contact the office of the attorney general by calling (321) 394-5182.